On October 22, 2015, Catalyst, 2020 Women on Boards, DirectWomen, and PowHer New York testified in support of two new groundbreaking board diversity bills that call for the New York City Council to collect data on the gender diversity as well as race of the boards of directors, officers, and other executive level employees of companies that contract with the city. In addition, the bill would require an annual report on the employment policies, practices and statistics of city contractors, including the diversity of their directors, officers, and other executive level employees.
Differing Views on Board Diversity
A report released by PwC revealed that men and women directors have vastly different opinions about the value of board diversity. Only 35% of male directors polled thought that having a female board member is “very important,” compared to 63% of female directors. In addition, 74% of the women “very much” agreed that board diversity leads to enhanced company performance, as opposed to 31% of the men.
Catalyst research has identified the numerous benefits that board diversity has on a company’s performance, and Brande Stellings, Vice President, Corporate Board Services, Catalyst, supported this claim when interviewed by Emily Peck of the Huffington Post. She questioned the low level of male support: “[Diversity] is going to be good for your business. And in terms of workforce and talent pool, why would you only want to choose from half of the available candidates?”
Comply or Explain: Women on Boards in Canada
Catalyst Canada’s Executive Director, Alex Johnston, was part of a panel convened by the Ontario Security Commission (OSC) to discuss its policies to increase the number of women on boards. The OSC’s Comply or Explain initiative requires all companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) to either comply by having a woman represented in their boardroom, or be able to explain why no women were qualified for the role.
Currently, only 14% of companies on the TSX have adopted policies to increase the number of women on their board. Alex Johnston was quoted in Investment Executive debunking the excuses that prevail: "Less than 50% of sitting board members today have CEO experience, so let's not apply a different standard to women. There are a huge number of qualified women who have executive experience, which is typically what you're looking for.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Leading By Example
Just days after he came into office, newly appointed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rewrote history and became a notable game changer with the introduction of the first cabinet with equal numbers of women and men.
In Memory of Mary Elizabeth “Betsy” Bruening: Advocate For Board Diversity
We are sad to share news of the passing of Catalyst friend Betsy Bruening, Managing Director of the Cleveland office of Diversified Search. As a founding partner of executive search firm The Prout Group, Betsy was influential at working to increase the number of women and minorities on corporate boards. We have been privileged to work alongside Betsy with the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD) and to share her mission to diversify boardrooms. Betsy’s life and legacy will live on through her family, mentees, and the continued work of the ABD.